A Muslim or Atheist President? Not Likely Says New Poll


A new Gallup poll reveals that while an increasing number of Americans would vote for a gay or lesbian president, a Muslim or atheist-identifying potential POTUS is likely to be left out in the cold.

The poll found that nine out of 10 Americans would vote for a presidential candidate who is black, a woman, and identifying as either Catholic, Hispanic, or Jewish.

However, a significantly lower level of support was found for an atheist president, at just 54%, or a Muslim president at 58%.

In full, the question asked:

Between now and the 2012 political conventions there will be discussion about the qualifications of presidential candidates — their education, age, religion, race, and so on. If your party nominated a generally well-qualified president who happened to be _______, would you vote for that person?

The results update a question Gallup first asked in 1937 in reference to a female, Jewish, or Catholic candidate, which has periodically been asked since then, with additional candidate characteristics added to the list.

The overall breakdown looks as follows:

Gallup 2012 Characteristics Poll

Support for a black president, a woman president and a Jewish president have stayed relatively unchanged since the last poll in 1999.áIt may be of interest to note that 2012 is the first time that Gallup has asked about support for a Muslim president.

Other polls in the past year have shown a deep mistrust of atheists among the American public, and indeed atheists were again the lowest rated group in the poll–though Gallup is quick to point out that acceptance of an atheist president surpassed 50% last summer and has continued its upward trend.

When respondents were asked if they would support a gay or lesbian president, 68% of respondents said yes. This is up 42% from when the question was first asked in 1978, and 9% up on 1999.

On this issue however the breakdown showed a sharp contrast between Democratic and Republican voters, withá82% of Democrats in favor of a gay and lesbian candidate, compared to 68% of Independents and 56% of Republicans. This may further add to the idea that support for gay rights has now become a democratic litmus test.

When it comes to a Mormon president, the poll may also have demonstrated a mild “Romney effect,” that is to say an increase on previous years in Republican-identifying support for a Mormon Commander in Chief, with 90% of Republican respondents saying yes to a Mormon president.

Says Gallup:

When Gallup asked the same question in February 1999, Republicans were only slightly more likely than Democrats, 81% to 75%, to say they would vote for a Mormon for president. There was a similar six-percentage-point party gap (72% Republican, 66% Democrat) in a February 2007 poll, in the early stages of the 2008 presidential campaign and Romney’s first run for president.

However, the overall figure of support has remained fairly unchanging over the years, especially in more recent times among Democratic voters. This has led Gallup pollsters to speculate that, unlike with other groups which have seen a steady upward trend, there may be a ceiling effect at play that has capped off the figure of support for a Mormon POTUS.

A familiar age-related pattern was also demonstrated in the Gallup poll. Fewer thanáhalf of senior citizens would vote for a candidate who is gay, an atheist, or Muslim, said the poll. However, as Gallup puts it, “At least seven in 10 young adults, those under age 30, would vote for a presidential candidate of any background.”

As an interesting conclusion, Gallup wonders if the cap on support for a Mormon president may be indicative of a looming cap on other demographics like a gay or atheist president and that, while upward momentum seems swift at the moment, we may expect it to eventually reach a ceiling which will be hard to break.

Results for the poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 7-10, 2012, with a random sample of 1,004 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.áFor results based on the total sample of national adults, there is a 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is +/- 4%.


Related Reading:

Atheists About As Trustworthy As Rapists To The Faithful

Atheists Rank #1 in Religious Literacy in America

Atheists in Foxholes

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Alan Klim.


Julie Cook
Past Member 5 years ago

Jane R. According to your profile these are the things that bug you:
"people who don't "listen", any one that would hurt a woman, Evil people, abusive people, Drunk Drivers, Litter Bugs!!, liars, Any one that would hurt an animal, Any one that would hurt a child "

Here are the two that apply to you
1. people who don't "listen"
2. liars

So, does it not bug you to spew these proven lies and why don't you take your own advice and listen to facts?

Shan D.
Shan D5 years ago

Jane R.: It's so pathetic to see grown people who should be able to apply logic and basic humanity to any issue falling back on hysterical lies perpetrated by IGNORANT BIGOTS.

Or maybe being a bigot is what gives you your personal self-worth? I pity you.

Jane R.
Jane R5 years ago

Kasia Y. You already have a Muslim president and he's doing a sorry job! He should be shipped back to where he was born, Kenya!

Amber Beasley
Amber Beasley5 years ago

I don't care and I don't vote, it's not like my vote matters anyway, plus all politicians are corrupt. there's no one good running the US anymore.

Edo F.
Edo F5 years ago

Who really gives a rats arse what belief/non-belief/colour/sex etc etc the president is. As long as this person leads well, and listens to the people it really shouldn't matter! Maybe when people run for presidency their religion shouldn't be disclosed. Besides, i thought that the USA is supposed to have a separation between church and state? Doesn't the atheist qualify the best for that role? People who play with imaginary friends should not bring them into politics.

Kasia Y.
Kasia Y.5 years ago

A Christian president (remember Bush) and a Muslim president (he'd be as bad or worse than Bush) should never be permitted in the USA. Religion has no place in the lives of peaceful people and does nothing but encourage violence and hate.

Shan D.
Shan D5 years ago

"we should observe the miracles that happen every second, like the sun "coming up" every day because we are rotating as we fly along on our orbit around the sun and yet we are "stable". That is so incredible, how often do you think about that?" - Deborah V. -

I just had a birthday a couple of weeks ago - my 49th trip around the Sun. The way I see it, I get to do this for free, every year. Some day, a tourist company will charge people $$$$$$$ for a luxury space liner to do the same thing in less time. May as well enjoy it now, while I can afford it.

As for the "stability" bit... tell that to my cat. Every time she sees something that's above floor level that she thinks should be *at* floor level, she knocks it off. It always falls. That's not a miracle. That's inconvenient. It would be nice if my stuff would just float where it is, but alas, we're not in a zero-g environment. Gravity isn't a "miracle." It just *is*.

Arild Warud
Arild Warud5 years ago

I would vote for an atheist if I could.

Roger M.
Past Member 5 years ago

Very interesting and more than a little depressing that Americans won't vote for someone who doesn't have irrational beliefs.

La Loba L.
La Loba L5 years ago

Whatever happened to separation of church and state? It's still in effect on the books, but not in practice. I like Ron B.'s comment, and believe it's high time we get religion out of it. It is not right for Christian church leaders to influence their people in who to vote for/against. Their job is to help the people become more "Christ-like". God is not interested in worldly things. For the Christians who would vote for Romney, remember that the Mormon church is not a Christian church. Do some research on them for yourself. The important thing is to vote in a person who will look out for the interests of the majority of the citizens.